Category Archives: Management and Leadership

Cohort 14 Presentations

One of the culminating efforts for Cohort 14’s, 18-month experience was to research and identify an innovative product or service (or redesign an existing product or service) for the bottom of the pyramid. As a team, they were to select the product or service and be prepared to present the target market, service concept, operations strategy and service delivery for your offering. Below is an overview of each groups presentation.

Good Turn

Good turn was created by Cohort 14 members Matt Wierenga, Dave Pickens, Desi Warner, and Adam Swiatek.

From left to right: Dave Pickens, Desi Warner, Matt Wierenga, and Adam Swiatek.

Their concept was to create a network of skilled individuals who have the opportunity to pay it forward with an act of kindness. Professionals fill out a survey identifying their skill set which then are added to a broader network list. These services would be beneficial to those in need or who may not be able to afford to pay for these services otherwise.

This company runs off of a give and take concept; looking at our community alone, there are 350,000 people who are in need, and 3.17 million with the skills to help.

These services would be accessed through a phone application or through the internet, and would work on a token system. Some of these e-tokens would be donated to charity, others sold to businesses that would gain promotion and online marketing from the experience. The e-tokens would then be distributed to those in need, who could exchange an e-token for a service they are in need of in the community.

The Kin~nected Hearts Foundation Empowering Families

This company was created by Cohort 14 members Julie Billy, Hakim Lucas, Lyndsey Denton, and Christy Reynolds.

From left to right: Julie Billy, Christy Reynolds, Lyndsey Denton, and Hakim Lucas.

Their concept was a company with a social enterprise focus and directed at those at the bottom of the World Pyramid, focusing specifically on single mothers of young children in Central Florida. A significant 68% of single parent households are living below the poverty line. Meanwhile, 85% of brain growth occurs in the first 3 years of life, yet 45% of center-based child care facilities do not offer infant and toddler care.

A social enterprise is an organization that has a mission that benefits the public or community; they utilize trade, of which a substantial portion of income comes from; and reinvest the majority of their profit into their mission.

Their mission statement is:

To serve the single mothers of young children in Central Florida by providing education, job placement, and support services, while providing high quality, on-site child care in a nurturing environment.

The company would offer support services, with a mentorship program, child care, job training, and job placement. This is an extremely unique offering as all of these services are provided in one location vs. what traditionally these single mothers face and that is having to go to individual agencies one by one to get their issues resolved.

Ms. Keeter Beater

This company was created by Cohort 14 members Jason Mejeras, Rachael Faircloth, Zineb Sands, and Janice Trew.

The goal of this company is to reduce the spread of diseases in the rural, southeast Asia region. Preventing illness and death from diseases is done through affordable sanitation and proper protection. They target families with school-age children 5-17, school teachers, healthcare providers, and those at the ‘bottom of the pyramid.’

A hygiene product combined with a bug protectant is used to reduce illness. It is made up of liquid citronella soap dried on paper which dissolves when water it is applied. This is then sold in small, local marketplaces. This is a unique offering as it is a solution that provides hygienic car

From left to right: Zineb Sands, Jason Mejeras, Rachael Faircloth, and Janice Trew.

e plus insect repellant all in one. Also, they address sustainability as there is no waste of any kind or footprint left behind. The box the product initially comes in, is returned to the distributors for reuse, and the soap dried paper dissolves and disappears.

All three teams presented their very different products with passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm; however, our guest Alumni panel selected Ms. Keeter Beater as the company with the overall Most Innovative Product or Service. A huge congrats to their company for their creative and well-thought out plan which we all agreed could be implemented and solve a looming problem in this region!

We are so fortunate to have watched our students transform professionally and personally over the past 18 months. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for all of them! 

Top photo: Cohort 14 on their first day of classes 18 months ago. Bottom photo: Cohort 14 on their last day of classes!

Where Are They Now? – A Q&A with an Alumna

Cinthia Douglas, a Cohort 11 alumna of our Stetson EMBA program shares her personal journey and experiences!

How did your education enhance or change your current career path?

Since graduating with my MBA, I received a promotion with Disney Parks & Resorts.  I am now leading the Trade Marketing and the Consumer Marketing for both Disneyland and Disney Cruise line in Latin America.  I can definitely attribute this growth directly to my experience at Stetson.  The program was a wonderful balance of business acumen and meaningful leadership courses.

What piece of advice would you give to students considering pursuing an EMBA?

My #1 piece of advice is that YOU CAN DO THIS!  I did it with a young child and a full time career.  The hardest part is taking that first step and committing.  It is a lot of hard work, yes, and a lot of pressure, but all of it is manageable.  You will learn to manage time like you never have had to in your life.  And, you may have to give up watching TV for about two years (giggles).

How has your education at Stetson impacted your professional life? 

My entire life was impacted truly – Because the leadership courses and career coaching included some serious self-reflection.  That guided self-reflection is what helped me get a clear view of what I valued, and how to lead others by understanding what they value.

Why did you choose our EMBA program over others in the Central Florida area?

I chose the Stetson EMBA because a co-worker recommended it.  I had worked in my field for over ten years, and I was looking to connect with other professionals.  The Friday/Saturday all-day classes were also more convenient for me, having a young child at the time.  I did not want to have to drive Downtown or farther for evening classes during the week.

Cohort 15 Reflects Inward in Completing a Professional Development Plan

One of the transformative aspects of Stetson University’s EMBA Program is our unique Leadership Development courses placed strategically throughout the students 18-month experience. In the first course, students develop a Professional Development Plan (PDP), designed to be their roadmap for leadership growth and skill development. The PDP is viewed as a living dynamic document that will be enhanced and altered as a result of their academic and collaborative learning environment and personal journey. Ideally, the PDP will become an indispensable archive of reflection during the program and should provide documentation of student’s professional and personal growth.

Cohort 15 is currently developing their PDPs and a few members shared their experience with our team.

Juan Yang shared that she learned was “priceless to [her] and [her] family.” She found that the progress helped her discover and find out “who [she is] and what [she wants] to do the most to develop [her] career goal”. In exploring herself and her family, she also believes that her mother has taught her resiliency from a young age.


Elena Outlan found that “developing the PDP was quite a bit of work.” She found that her approach was more systematic, which she was glad of – it was a fine line to follow the steps of the assignment “or you would quickly realize that you are in trouble.”

Elena spoke volumes towards the EMBA program here at Stetson as she discussed the impact her classes had on her ability to complete her initial attempt at her PDP.

I believe the discussion topics and reading materials we had during and outside class were also extremely important in shaping our thinking around the PDP document.

Though Elena finds she “cannot state that [her] PDP is close to perfect”, she thanks Dean Neal and Dr. Kelly for their teachings, as they provided a “solid roadmap” to continuing her professional development throughout the duration of this course.


Aziz Ndiaye stated that he “enjoyed writing the PDP” and found it to be an extremely useful tool with regards to his personal and professional growth. Aziz noted that he intends to “lean on the talented professionals from [cohort 15] to strengthen [his] leadership skills.”

Aziz reflected that he has enjoyed the experience of writing a PDP before, as he has compiled many versions of this throughout his career, as well as S.M.A.R.T goals. He therefore did not find this assignment challenging, but instead embraced the task and was “very excited to work on this critical project”.

I can assure you that Dr. Mero and Dr. Hall have made this Leadership and Management Class very interactive and entirely meaningful.

Cohort 14 Reflection on their Professional Development Plans

 As Cohort 15’s deadline for submitting their Personal Development Plan (PDP) approaches, we asked Dave and Jason from Cohort 14 for their tips and reflections with regards to their experience with this assignment.

Dave reflected that the assignment “was more work than [he] expected”; however, he “learned a lot about [himself].” Through his experience, he had the realization that a personal development plan is “a document that is a work in progress. It is not done when you turn it in. In fact, it may never be done!”

After handing in his assignment, he felt free to focus on his next project. It did, however, afford him the opportunity to get feedback from others and, more importantly, helped him realize that the assignment “is wholly owned by yours truly,” lamenting that it is more of a commitment he made to himself.

The net of it is that I can’t let myself down, or others that depend on me.

The point that Dave found most beneficial to walk away with, is that he had a tendency “to use [his] head when working through challenging issues”, and yet through the assignment, he learned through “the encouragement [he] received in [his] leadership journey was to “listen” to [his] heart”. He finds that he has since made decisions in this regard, and been all the better for it.

Dave hopes to find the time in the future to share more of his journey, and choices made, thanks to experiences and opportunities relating to this assignment.

Jason reflected that he knew “if [he] wanted to be successful with this paper and subsequently the program, [he] would need to assimilate the knowledge learned with real life application”. He reflects on theories learned in the classroom that could help shape students into becoming leaders. He found that he was able to “introspectively consider [his] character as it related to [his] strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots.” This allowed him to gain greater insight into how others viewed him as a leader also.

Jason found, similarly to Dave, that his PDP needed to be approached more as a “work in progress, which then became a map” to aid him in navigating his EMBA. Jason also included a SMART goal in his PDP, as he determined that it would help him “lean out of [his] comfort zone by including some personal character challenges.”

Part of our learning was how to grow through understanding the unknown aspects of ourselves and embracing them. This notion resonated with me and was one of the main pillars of my PDP.

One tip Jason had for the PDP assignment was that students should look at their current situation, and what led them to where they are at that moment. Using the PDP like a road map as he did, the project could be used to help each individual aim beyond their “target growth and challenge [themselves] to the extent of [their] capabilities.” After all, each individual is looking to obtain personal growth through the program. All in all, Jason summed up the assignment – and the program – in this:

You will be surprising yourself in ways you did not think possible throughout your program, and you will be humbled by your experiences.

Climbing Mount Everest: A Simulating Experience

On Friday September 22nd, Cohort 15 participated in a number of stations, one of which focused on leadership and teamwork. This particular station involved groups of five completing a web-based simulation of a team climbing Mount Everest! Our graduate assistants Jenny and Lauren share their and their teammates’ experiences of working together in an attempt to reach the summit.

Last weekend we had the pleasure of spending roughly two hours with a few of our members from Cohort 15 in a simulation that focused on problem-solving and decision-making challenges. Each person in the group was assigned an individual position (either: leader, marathoner, environmentalist, physician, or photographer). However, they had one group goal in mind: make it up the summit of Mount Everest together. The group faced obstacles along the way that forced them to make decisions as a team in a way that would not only benefit an individual, but would also benefit the group as a whole and thus increase their chances of making it to the top together.

Jenny’s Group –

Jenny’s team took some time to explore the program together and read aloud the goals for the climb. It was quickly noted that individual goals would contrast with each other, and there were going to have to be decisions made along the climb in the interest of the group and not the individual. With each stage, the group discussed pros and cons, always only proceeding with everyone in agreement.

Nicole, Sophia, Abdoul, Kristie, and Jenny (GA) during their teamwork task of progressing to the summit of Mount Everest.

There were sacrifices made for the group, which all members were more than willing to make. Individual goals and points were forgotten, and the overall climb and health of each member quickly became the main concern. The interesting aspect of a struggle with oxygen was that everyone had pieces of information with regards to calculations, but it was only by putting the information together that the answer could actually be found.  Though the team did not make it to the summit – as two individuals had to be rescued – it was considered an overall success for coming so far and working so well as a team.

Discussion/Feedback –

Jenny enjoyed the time to bond with the group and work together to reach their goals, and liked how team members were becoming more and more concerned for each other’s health as time went on, even though it was just a simulation. Abdoul said that though he felt exhausted after the experience, he felt that with a lack of information, mistakes were inevitable, but that it was a good lesson that making mistakes is a big part of leadership and teamwork. Sophia felt that the team became more confident in each other and were going with gut feelings, which is also a big part of teamwork and leadership. Kristie very much enjoyed that the efforts and concerns for the group as a whole took preference over individual goals. She also appreciated that though there was an assigned leader, everyone had equal input into the decisions that were made. Nicole noted that the survey during the simulation asked questions regarding to disagreements and contrasting opinions during discussions, but she found that in each decision we made, we were all unanimous and united as a group.

Abdoul, Jenny (graduate assistant), Nicole, Kristie, and Sophia, after an (almost) successful journey up the mountain!

Lauren’s Group

On day four, Lauren’s group had successfully made it to camp three. However, they were all starting to have critical health conditions both physically and mentally, with some team members also having frostbite and breathing issues. They were faced with the decision of whether to remain at camp three and let everyone rest for the day or move forward to camp four before resting, which was recommended by experts as well as earned them more ‘team points.’ Lauren’s group decided to try and make it to camp four despite everyone being in critical health conditions. Unfortunately, this was not the best choice for them, and both their photographer and physician had to be rescued and brought back to base camp. The next day, the three remaining members made the trudge up the summit, but unfortunately two members ran out of oxygen and had to be rescued and returned to base camp. Because of this, the leader was the only one to make it to the top of the summit successfully.

Discussion/Feedback –

After the stimulation, everyone in Lauren’s group agreed that they had worked really well together despite not making to the top of the summit together. Everyone in her group had decided to disclose any health related issues they had, which they could have kept to themselves. The group felt that this benefited them as they were all aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

One of the students in Lauren’s group described this experience in her own words: “This stimulation was a lot like life: it throws random obstacles at you and you just have to learn and adapt to the curve balls.” The group also agreed that again, like life, it is important to take risks, but it is also important to be conservative sometimes. They took a risk going to camp four to earn more team points, but perhaps they should have been a little more conservative with this decision considering the critical condition of all the team members. Everyone in Lauren’s group had a blast doing this stimulation! They all agreed that it was a great way to get to know their cohort members more through a team building process which took them out of their comfort zone and forced them to make decisions as a group rather than individually.





The Newest Cohort in Celebration

On August 18th, Cohort 14 welcomed Cohort 15 to Stetson’s Executive MBA Program. Adam Swiatek from Cohort 14 shares some great highlights from Orientation weekend. Our new students are eager and enthusiastic to begin classes and we are excited to have them!

Each year, the Stetson EMBA admits a tight-knit group of students to the program. The group takes classes together, travels abroad, creates group projects and socializes together. Through the structure and the experience that the EMBA provides, students are able to take relationships to the next level – creating bonds that are unparalleled and unmatched.

Since the program is selective, there is extra special attention given to each student and the relationships that form as a result of the program. Cohort 14 (affectionately called the “Legion”) welcomed Cohort 15 last weekend. These are the new eager students who will be sharing the Center at Celebration with the “Legion” – and more importantly, the snack room! They are the next generation and the next wave of EMBA learners coming through the program prepared to receive a transformational experience.

Cohort 14 paved the way for strong relationships and close bonds. Over this past summer, those relationships were strengthened as the cohort traveled to Hong Kong and Bangkok as part of their International Field Experience course. Through in the moment scenarios, that could only come up when traveling, the cohort bonded and learned more about each other. They were already close – but, the trip experience really solidified the deal.

When they returned back to the Center, they were excited to keep the memories of their time together going with the new wall décor in Celebration featuring their travels and experiences of our Cohort 14 students on the walls for all to enjoy!

Cohort 15 was welcomed to the EMBA program by Cohort 14 students with open arms. Returning students could not wait to meet the new students for breakfast. And, the meeting of new friends continued at lunch at Happy Hour after class. Returning students interspersed with new students during meals – as they told the tales and shared their personal experiences of the journey the next 18 months ahead.

Following the first weekend of class, some Cohort 15 students already started using the study rooms and taking advantage of the resources that Stetson provides. This won’t be the only opportunity that they have to use the study rooms. There will be 18 more months of coursework and small group work ahead. While some of it will be relatively easy, some of it will really take the mental power and support of the whole cohort. They will discover their strengths – some strengths that they might not even know they had – and band together to make the educational experience truly amazing.

Cohort 14 undoubtedly will continue to be great mentors and supporters of our new executive students as they learn to balance professional and personal priorities with being a student in a progressive master’s program. As these two cohorts collaborate, naturally skills will be transferred and networks will be broadened heightening each individual’s experience.  Later this fall, Alumni will be added to the mix with our Tailgate Mixer at the Stetson vs. Brown football game in DeLand and then in the spring at our annual Alumni event. Pairing emerging leaders in Central Florida has been a highlight for all involved.

Leading Business Development Influencers Share Their Expertise in Hong Kong

Shared by Dr. William T. Jackson, Sr., Director of Stetson University’s Joseph C. Prince Entrepreneurship Program

Our last day in Hong Kong was anything but a boring “bag drag” to the airport. We ended our stay with an insightful panel discussion composed of leading experts in business development within the region. Panelists’ backgrounds included corporate law (Wai Zee), Public Relations (Adrian Warr), and legal strategies for startups (Astor Chan). The presentation continued to reinforce the importance of, and need for, entrepreneurial activity for the region. From the depth and quality of questions (during and after the panel presentation), it was obviously a hit with Cohort 14.

After arriving in Bangkok students (and faculty) quickly set the bar in fashion for future cohorts. A local tailor was kept busy late into the evening “sizing up” this dandy group.

Stetson EMBA Students Network with Hong Kong Business Leaders

Networking in Hong Kong – shared by Hakim Lucas

The Monday evening networking event was held in the Lion’s Rock of the Royal Plaza Hotel and provided an opportunity for Cohort 14 to meet and greet 4 Hong Kong business leaders, 1 of which was a 2000 Stetson alumni. Each had their unique perspective on the future of Hong Kong’s economy. Anna, the founder of a woman’s entrepreneurship platform called female entrepreneurs worldwide; a physician turned businessman, Dr. Hanif Kanji, CEO and co-founder of Sinophi Healthcare Limited, and, Glenn Susyin Green, the alum who works for a local battery company, GPI International Limited.

A healthy discussion was had around the importance of relationship building when doing business in Hong Kong. Important aspects of the business culture are: the positive and negative influences of Chinese culture (copy, buy or destroy your ideas), the drinking culture in business deal making, religious and Confucian values, emergence of a new generation, and real estate as the hidden tax.

The feelings around entrepreneurship were mixed, as the potential growth in the Hong Kong market was debated. On the one hand, a presumed increased pace of China’s economic growth could create access to wealth and other opportunities, while on the other hand Chinese policies or the lack thereof could stifle Hong Kong’s residents ability to uses its innovative spirit.

Much of our time spent were in discussion of the issues that will determine if Hong Kong is successful in the future.


Taskworld Experience

By: Julie Muckerheide

After several weeks of research, writing a consulting report and preparing a PowerPoint presentation, we were ready to start rehearsing our presentations for Taskworld, a task-based project management software company.  Our Cohort split up into our individual groups, and we moved into business rooms at the Sofitel Sukhumvit.

Rehearsal Photo

It was arranged ahead of time, that several members of Toastmasters would be coming to coach us and give us some presentation pointers. Our group was particularly influenced by local businessman, Andrea Ceratti, Managing Director of Double B Trading.  He videotaped our presentation and gave us excellent feedback.  We wanted to show an improvement, so we asked him if he would be willing to return the following morning to watch us again.  He was kind enough to agree.  We were very thankful that someone from the local community would invest the time in our group.  The feedback was invaluable, and a wonderful new friend was made in Thailand.  After a few more rehearsals, the Cohort boarded the bus for Taskworld.  Upon arrival at the Okura Prestige building, we were treated to a lovely buffet lunch with CEO Fred Mouaward, and several of the Taskworld Leadership.  It was an amazing taste of Thailand.

Buffet Photo

Sitting with Melinda Marczali, Customer Success Strategist, and Patrick Wings, VP Marketing, we were able to speak in depth about the company.

3 ppl photo

They shared with us about the importance of culture in Taskworld – how they are extremely selective about their talent, as they want right-fit people as part of their organization. It was very refreshing to learn more about their Culture Book, which explains what they deem to be nurturing vs. damaging behavior in their company.  We were given a tour of the facility, presented our consulting reports to the Taskworld leadership, and were treated to desserts and coffee afterward.  We were honored to have this opportunity. It was a wonderful experience, and we hope we had a positive impact on Taskworld.

Julie Group Photo

Fred and Julie Photo

An Inspiring Marketing Career

Innovation and leadership development have always been two of the main pillars for Stetson Executive MBA approach. Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.02.46 AMIt has been a rewarding experience to see the vast opportunities our Alumni have fulfilled in the professional market, and how much their careers have become strengthened and intensively wedded to social, environmental and economical responsibility.

Darcy Clark is a perfect example. Originally from Atlanta, GA, Darcy was part of Stetson’s EMBA Cohort 7, and since graduation has been committed to the highest standards for her continued professional development and future. Three years ago Darcy was nominated as the Marketing Manager for Disney Springs. In this position, Darcy has been responsible for the day-to-day on-property marketing efforts for the retail, dining and entertainment district at Walt Disney World Resort. This includes everything from social media to collateral development, media interviews to writing for The Disney Parks Blog. During Disney Springs’ recent transition from Downtown Disney, Darcy spent a lot of time educating partners about the transformation and the future. Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.22.17 AM“This movement is the largest in our history and we’re literally doubling in size, adding about 60 new retail locations and many new Food & Beverage offerings, including three by James Beard Award Winning Chefs. I’ve been in this role for three years, and I’ve seen every construction wall go up. I’m thrilled that I’m here to see them all come down”, says Darcy.

With fourteen years of professional work experience with Disney Parks & Resorts, Darcy has had a variety of marketing-related roles. She explains, “I’ve been an Advertising Account Manager with our in-house agency, Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group; I’ve been part of our Synergy Team, as the liaison with other divisions of the Disney Company; I’ve even spent time working in Digital Marketing, where I was responsible for the Walt Disney World Facebook page, among others.” All of those roles combined made Darcy a great candidate for this job, which is a nice mix of the skills she has acquired over the years since she started out as an intern with the Walt Disney World College Program. “I think when you work your way up from an entry-level role, you have a better sense for how the organization works and it makes you appreciate it so much more when you finally land in a job you love”, she concludes.

One thing to remember is that although there are challenges with any job, they can make you stronger and bring a better sense of accomplishment. For Darcy it has not being any different, and she remembers, “For me, I had a lot to learn about the operations side of the business. For ten years, I sat in an office building and supported the Parks from afar; in my current role, I’m located in the midst of Disney Springs, and I love it! This is a fast-paced environment. My current team isn’t afraid to schedule an 8:30 a.m. meeting. We work really hard and sometimes it’s hectic and stressful, but at the end of day, it’s so worth it!”

Darcy story is inspiring and brings Stetson immense pride in her tremendous accomplishments! Join us to celebrate this inspirational woman that is making a significant difference in the world.

About Disney Springs™

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.23.24 AMThe name change from Downtown Disney® to Disney Springs™ is official! This change marks an important milestone in the ongoing transformation of the shopping, dining and entertainment district at Walt Disney World® Resort. Drawing inspiration from Florida’s waterfront towns and natural beauty, Disney Springs treats guests to a one-of-a-kind Disney experience amid beautiful open-air promenades, flowing springs and waterfront charm. Disney Springs will include four interconnected neighborhoods: The LandingMarketplaceWest Side and Town Center. When Disney Springs is fully completed in 2016, the number of shopping, dining and entertainment venues will increase from the current 75 to more than 150. Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.22.27 AMNew to Disney Springs is The Landing, home to unique shopping locations and memorable dining experiences, including the recently opened Morimoto Asia and Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. Coming soon, the Town Center will include a diverse mix of retailers – including premium, affordable luxury and fast fashion options – and unique restaurants.